The Vertical Flight Society has said that the explosive growth of the world’s eVTOL aircraft market, plus significant developments in military and civil rotorcraft, have continued to expand its membership.  

As of January 1st, a total of 163 companies are now members of the society, which is a net 19 per cent growth from a year ago and a doubling over the past five years. The number of individual members has also grown to more than 6,300 — a net increase of nearly 10 per cent (550 individuals) over the past 12 months and a 30 per cent growth (1,400 individuals) over the past five years.

Much of this growth is due to the extensive support efforts and resources that VFS provides to the vertical flight industry, including technical resources, talent acquisition, educational opportunities and networking. 

Mike Hirschberg, Vertical Flight Society’s Executive Director, said: “This past year saw steady technical progress and eye-popping financial investments in the leading eVTOL developers. VFS had estimated $4.5 billion of investments in eVTOL companies in 2010–2020. However, last year saw several additional developers go public and/or attract sizeable private investments; the total additional global estimate in 2021 alone was around $6 billion.

The 36 new companies that joined VFS during 2021 include Archer, the Community Air Mobility Initiative (CAMI), Elroy Air, Crown Consulting, Electric Power Systems, Mobius.energy, Ohio Department of Transportation, SMG Consulting, SkyDrive, TruWeather Solutions and UP.Partners

These new corporate members include companies, non-profits and government agencies from around the world who are supporting all aspects of vertical flight. In addition to civil and military rotorcraft developments, such as the US Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program, eVTOL developments increased markedly in 2021.  

As of today, the Society has cataloged over 590 different electric VTOL concepts from nearly 350 companies and innovators on its authoritative World eVTOL Aircraft Directory at www.evtol.news.

When VFS launched the site in April 2017, only a dozen eVTOL programmes were under development. Nearly 200 new designs were added in 2021 alone. The site currently also hosts more than 600 eVTOL news stories, including some 270 in-depth articles from the Society’s Vertiflite magazine, the leading periodical on eVTOL and rotorcraft developments. 

VFS has been at the forefront of what it calls the ‘Electric VTOL Revolution’ since 2014 when it held the world’s first meeting of the eVTOL development community.

Now, the Society’s 9th Annual Electric VTOL Symposium — being held from January 25th to 27th in-person in San Jose, California, and also virtually, as part of the VFS Transformative Vertical Flight (TVF) Technical Meeting — continues as the world’s largest and longest-running event focusing on the incredible promise, progress and challenges of eVTOL aircraft.

As in previous years, the annual symposium will present the latest insights, trends and progress in eVTOL developments. This month’s symposium features plenary presentations by government leaders from NASA, the US Army, US Air Force and the FAA, as well as industry talks from Sikorsky, Hyundai’s Supernal, Lilium and Wisk.

More than 50 additional VIP speakers and panellists in the symposium cover important topics regarding eVTOL, while more than 60 technical papers on rotorcraft aeromechanics, eVTOL, the Mars Helicopter, advanced air mobility (AAM) will be presented. Details are available at www.vtol.org/TVF2022. This is a hybrid event with a virtual connection for global benefit. 

When VFS launched the first TVF meeting in 2014, the idea of electric VTOL aircraft was greeted with widespread scepticism, but growing technical progress, flight demonstrations, government validation and private investment have helped reverse public perception. It is now recognised that the vertical flight market is poised for significant expansion over the next few years as eVTOL aircraft enter service that can have higher performance than conventional helicopters for certain missions, as well as lower operating costs and lower noise. 

VFS was founded as the American Helicopter Society in 1943 by the visionaries of the early helicopter industry, who believed that technological cooperation and collaboration were essential to support this new type of aircraft. Today, history is repeating itself, with VFS playing a similar role helping to advance today’s revolutionary eVTOL aircraft.

VFS holds the largest and longest-running vertical flight technical conference in the world, which this year will be its 78th Annual Forum & Technology Display from May 10th-12th, 2022, in Ft. Worth, Texas, USA.